The Smaller the Car, the Greater the Injury?

by Terry Bryant

Buying a smaller vehicle is an entirely logical move for today’s consumer. Smaller vehicles save money at the pump because they typically get better gas mileage. Driving and parking in a city as big and populous as Houston are also easier when you have a smaller car as opposed to a larger SUV or truck.

However, when it comes to safety, it turns out that smaller vehicles don’t stack up well against their larger counterparts. A recent study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) found that some of the most dangerous cars for drivers involved in a crash are the smallest cars, according to CNBC. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio came in at the bottom of the list of safest vehicles studied by the Institute.

Conversely, several larger model vehicles proved to be much more effective in protecting passengers, like the Jeep Cherokee and Mercedes-Benz M-Class. During the period studied, no drivers were killed in these vehicles.

Why Size is an Important Factor

The reason that large vehicles are safer in vehicle accidents has to do with physics, according to Chuck Farmer, Vice President of Research at the IIHS. “If you hit something bigger than you, you are more likely to die,” he said.

Consider the fact that when an 18-wheeler collides with a smaller passenger car, it is almost always the occupant of the smaller vehicle that gets injured. While SUVs and trucks aren’t as big as tractor-trailers, they’re still big enough to shield occupants from harm when colliding with a smaller vehicle.

Before we all go out and buy larger vehicles to ensure our safety on the road, it’s worth noting that larger vehicles also carry their own set of risks. For example, SUVs, vans, and trucks are more likely to roll over because their center of gravity is much higher than that of a smaller vehicle. Rollover crashes account for only 3% of serious vehicle crashes, but make up nearly a third of all fatalities in such crashes, according to Consumer Reports.

Most Cars Are Safer Than They Used to Be

As Edmunds points out, vehicle safety has advanced significantly over the past decade. Both smaller and larger cars are safer than they used to be, thanks to improved safety features and vehicle design. This is important for people considering buying older, used vehicles that might not include modern safety features. Still, even with the improved safety of all vehicles, a disparity remains between large and small vehicles.

Your vehicle of choice does play a big role in how safe you are on our roads. Ultimately, however, our lives are in the hands of those we share the road with. Over 90% of vehicle accidents are caused by human error, so no matter how far we go to protect ourselves and our loved ones in our vehicles, all it takes is one negligent driver to cause us harm.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a careless driver, contact the experienced Houston vehicle accident attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law to learn more about your legal options. We have been helping clients in Texas for more than three decades to get the compensation they deserve. To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.